The internet is an amazing marvel of modern technology. Within seconds you can be video conferencing with someone from halfway across the world while simultaneously browsing an online shopping site with the hopes of purchasing something you’ve had your eye on for a while. The internet has no doubt changed the way we live our lives forever. Every industry/career on the planet has been influenced by it in some way, and education is no exception.
Thanks to the internet, we as teachers can share resources online, both for free and/or for purchase utilizing a variety of apps and websites. Apps, such as Google Drive, are great for sharing resources with other teachers across the globe for free. I know I personally have multiple shared folders to share some of the electronic resources that I have created over the years with others, free of charge. There are a lot of great resources that I have created in said folders for anyone to access at anytime (http://bit.ly/2iv7gqr, http://bit.ly/2x4KThe).
Websites such as Teachers Pay Teachers have used the internet as a means to connect educators with one another through more of a capitalistic approach; giving educators a chance to make some extra money from their ideas by giving them a designated place to sell their creations to other teachers for a fee. In addition to my multiple free to access shared folders on Google Drive/Dropbox, I also have a sales page on Teachers Pay Teachers. There are a lot of great resources that I have created over the years which have been uploaded to my Teachers Pay Teachers site for reasonable prices (http://bit.ly/2w9Bvcc).
I recently read a blog by Chris Hersl (@MDPhysEd on Twitter…blog link: http://bit.ly/2gA1p2D) which I thought was very interesting. It is a well written piece that got me thinking. Through my reflection, I came realize that I agreed with some of the points that Chris made while also disagreeing with others. Chris’ main point was that charging fellow PE teachers for resources on sites such as Teachers Pay Teachers was having a negative impact on the collegiality and community of our profession. While I respect Chris as a person, leader and great advocate for our profession, I tend to disagree with him on this. I tend to think there might be a bigger threat to the collegiality and community feel of our profession…
As I thought more about his blog and my reactions to it, I came to realize that most PE teachers that are on social media can fall into one of two categories when it comes to electronic resources: “producers” or “consumers”. When I think of “producer” colleagues, I think of the people on Twitter/Facebook that are constantly creating AMAZING electronic resources that for the most part, are being shared to the masses free of charge. When I think of “consumer” colleagues, I think of the people on Twitter/Facebook that are constantly asking for these resources created by the “producer” teachers to be shared/sent to them for nothing in return. Sure there may be some instances where a “producer” type teacher might be looking for a resource in more of a “consumer” type role, and vice versa, but for the most part, if you are reading this blog, you know which category you fit into most of the time.
The resources that the “producer” type of PE teachers make take A LOT of time/energy/effort to create and to me, they are free to make the decision to either post it/share it for free or upload it to a site such as Teachers Pay Teachers, where it can be downloaded for what I think is usually a very reasonable price. Some people will say that by posting a resource for sale is in direct opposition to the “sharing” spirit that we should have more of in our profession. My questions to the people that think this way would be:
Most interactions I see on Twitter/Facebook centered around electronic resources are more so a one-way street (i.e. “consumers” commenting on the “producer’s” post of the electronic resource about how they would like to have said resource shared/sent to them). Like I mentioned earlier, these electronic resources usually take A LOT of time/energy/effort to make…time/energy/effort that could have been put into things unrelated to their teaching job. Time/energy/effort that could have been spent with family, friends, on hobbies/other interests, etc. For a “consumer” to just expect that an electronic resource created by a “producer” for hours on end to be shared with them instantaneously, for free, having invested no time/energy/effort of their own into it, is increasingly rubbing me the wrong way the more and more I think about it.
Keeping the idea of improving the status of our profession in mind, would our time be better spent trying to encourage/help those "consumer" PE teachers to play around with/learn computer programs used to make electronic resources (Comic Life, Google Sheets/Docs/Slides, PowerPoint, various Apps, etc.) rather than just constantly having those teachers to expect something that took time and effort on behalf of someone else for free? Would this type of approach foster more appreciation for the hard work/dedication that goes into creating electronic resources? Would this type of approach help a once labeled “consumer” type teacher to invest in themselves in such a way that they now have a new skill set to develop their own electronic resources to become more of a "producer"? The old adage “give a man a fish, he eats for a day…teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime” might possibly ring true here.
To me, true “sharing” is a two-way street, to ensure that everyone has some “skin in the game” so that no one is taken advantage of. At the very least, I think we should see more trading of resources via social media instead of just giving them away for free. If you see something you like and would like to use it yourself, offer the person that posted it something you have created in return. This type of bartering could go a long way in our profession to ensure that the time/energy/effort put into the creation of an electronic resource is never taken for granted by others.
Food for thought…